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Thread: Gulf oil leak - What to do?

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    Gulf oil leak - What to do?

    Surprised there hasn't been a thread on this yet. Apparently there was supposd to be some kind of valve at the sea bed that could be closed, but efforts to do so with a ROV failed. Somebody commenting on a news article wondered if there weren't naval or research submersibles that could be brought into service (normally I don't pay much attention to such commenters.) But if such vehicles exist, what could they do? How could you physically close the well?

    The news articles about drilling relief wells aren't very clear about how this would work. Any experts out there?

    And considering the consequences of such a leak, is it reasonable to assume there would have been some fail-safe engineering in place? Is that the valve that couldn't be shut off?

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    It's called the blowout preventer and it sits on top of the wellhead. It failed to close when commanded, which would have been at first when the kick happened. We don't know why. It consists of three rams. The pipe rams close around the drill pipe sealing off the annulus. The shear rams can cut right through the drill pipe. The blind rams seal of a hole without pipe in it. In this situation, they would have tried close the shear rams, lifting out the pipe above where it was cut and then closing the blind rams.

    Finding suitably capable submersibles is no easy matter. This is deepwater. Some of the deepest that has ever been drilled.

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    Angry

    And we're all pretty damn angry that this happened. We want to know what went wrong with the mud, what went wrong with the BOP and why the stupid riser busted a leak too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    It's called the blowout preventer and it sits on top of the wellhead. It failed to close when commanded, which would have been at first when the kick happened. We don't know why. It consists of three rams. The pipe rams close around the drill pipe sealing off the annulus. The shear rams can cut right through the drill pipe. The blind rams seal of a hole without pipe in it. In this situation, they would have tried close the shear rams, lifting out the pipe above where it was cut and then closing the blind rams.
    I have the impression that the electrical problems on the rig prevented the shutoff, and that the valve down below must be closed mechanically. Is this correct?

    Are there not autoshutoff valves under free-flow conditions? These valves are common on aircompressors.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    last night, some talking heads on one of the news channels were saying that they are build a "dome" to put over the well, with a pipe to the surface to capture the oil that is coming out.
    or something like that. i tend not to take what the talking heads on the 24 hour news channels say too seriously when they are talking about technical stuff.

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    The domes are containment chambers approximately 35 to 40 feet tall and weighing several tons. They will be equipped with valves and pipe to release the oil.

    See these links for images:
    http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/...BP_1-popup.jpg
    http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/...ure/t1larg.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    And we're all pretty damn angry that this happened. We want to know what went wrong with the mud, what went wrong with the BOP and why the stupid riser busted a leak too.
    Interesting that with all that money and all of the resource available this was even able to happen at all... but it did.
    and it should not have been possible. heads will role. A scape goat will be found and penance paid...
    I would hope that the mess gets cleaned up with a little more gusto than New Orleans did...
    From my vantage point half way around the planet. I am dismayed at the pathetic attempts thus far...
    We need to be better prepared for 'what can go wrong', often does... Thankyou Mr Murphy.
    But it must be added and balanced that as much as this is a tragedy in the making... these things do not seem to fail with such catastrophic result so often... So I will allow PB and the other drill operators the time and space to fix this... We and the rest of humanity are watching.

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    First relief well has been spudded. That mobilisation time must be a record for deepwater.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astromark View Post
    I am dismayed at the pathetic attempts thus far...
    Have you any idea what it takes to operate a mile down in the ocean?
    It doesn't sound like it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by astromark View Post
    I am dismayed at the pathetic attempts thus far...
    Pathetic? How so?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MAPNUT View Post
    Somebody commenting on a news article wondered if there weren't naval or research submersibles that could be brought into service (normally I don't pay much attention to such commenters.) But if such vehicles exist, what could they do?
    The industry already has remotely-operated submersibles designed specifically for deep well activities and there are plenty of them at this well site now. Naval and research submersibles would be of little value here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    It's called the blowout preventer and it sits on top of the wellhead. It failed to close when commanded, which would have been at first when the kick happened. We don't know why. It consists of three rams. The pipe rams close around the drill pipe sealing off the annulus. The shear rams can cut right through the drill pipe. The blind rams seal of a hole without pipe in it. In this situation, they would have tried close the shear rams, lifting out the pipe above where it was cut and then closing the blind rams.
    I'll be interested in reading the final technical report on why this BOP failed so spectacularly.

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    What's the worst case scenario here?
    Years and years of oil spilling?
    Could the spill reach the gulf stream?
    How will the wild life cope?

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    The dome think to capture the oil has been fabricated. It now needs a minister to bless it and then it can be mobilised.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boratssister View Post
    What's the worst case scenario here?
    Years and years of oil spilling?
    From what I understand, a couple of months, while relief wells are drilled (to relieve the pressure forcing the oil out). I suspect it won't be that long.
    Could the spill reach the gulf stream?
    I'd be surprised by that. It would have to go all the way around Florida and I don't think the currents go that way. More likely, it would spread around the Gulf of Mexico.

    How will the wild life cope?
    Badly.
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    Another Oil spill, marine life always pays the price for the negligence of man and no one really cares about take some safety precaution before making any decisions

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    Today our local paper indicated that it is not "if" but "when" will the oil enter the Gulf stream and effect our beaches and etc. The currents do go that way, the spill will possibly first hit the keys then the current will swing the oil directly into the East coast of Florida possibly making its way across the Atlantic. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Stream

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    Quote Originally Posted by megrfl View Post
    The currents do go that way...
    Just to augment your comment, I found this map which is a bit more detailed than many.
    From what I can tell, there are actually two currents that form to create the gulf stream. One directly from the open ocean north of the Carribean islands, and the other that goes south of the Carribean islands into the gulf and out.
    So not as strong of an effect as the Gulf stream, but definitely a contributor.

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    The best short term solution would be to emplace a bunch of dynamite around the leak, and then blow it to smithereens. This will collapse the hole and cause it to stop leaking. Where is Red Adair when you need him?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    First relief well has been spudded. That mobilisation time must be a record for deepwater.
    You speak the lingo pretty well. Did you do some work up in the North Sea?

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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    Pathetic? How so?
    Pathetic. As in feckless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Platts View Post
    The best short term solution would be to emplace a bunch of dynamite around the leak, and then blow it to smithereens. This will collapse the hole and cause it to stop leaking. Where is Red Adair when you need him?
    No that is not the best term solution. Think about what you've written. You want to blow a leak to smithereens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Platts View Post
    You speak the lingo pretty well. Did you do some work up in the North Sea?
    Yes. You may have noticed my location periodically switched to reflect when I was offshore back when I was doing a rotation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    No that is not the best term solution...
    I took his comment as a joke because of the Red Adair reference, and the fact that this isn't a well fire.

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    It suddenly disappeared from the news...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Platts View Post
    The best short term solution would be to emplace a bunch of dynamite around the leak, and then blow it to smithereens. This will collapse the hole and cause it to stop leaking. Where is Red Adair when you need him?
    Would the water pressure keep the oil in?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Platts View Post
    Pathetic. As in feckless.
    I know what the word means, Warren.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boratssister View Post
    Would the water pressure keep the oil in?
    Probably not, which is the reason that it hasnīt been tried.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boratssister View Post
    Would the water pressure keep the oil in?
    Whatever kills the well will no doubt need to be heavier than sea water.

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    Question

    Why didn't they throw a match on the Gulf of Mexico oil slick right away?

    Wouldn't the slick have been contained & neutralized by doing that?

    Obviously you get all people out of the area first. And keep people away while the inferno rages. Then the fire dies out, & no more oil slick. Right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boratssister View Post
    Would the water pressure keep the oil in?
    Obviously not; it wouldn't be leaking if the water pressure was enough. I'm just guessing off the top of my head, but you would want to pump down mud weighing something on the order of 15 pounds per gallon (freshwater weighs 8 ppg) in order to "kill" the well, as Glom says. Unfortunately, pumping mud down the hole isn't an option at this point....

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald
    Why didn't they throw a match on the Gulf of Mexico oil slick right away?

    Wouldn't the slick have been contained & neutralized by doing that?

    Obviously you get all people out of the area first. And keep people away while the inferno rages. Then the fire dies out, & no more oil slick. Right?
    The problem is that it's not one single well-defined slick. It forms "ribbons" that go all over the place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glom
    No that is not the best term solution. Think about what you've written. You want to blow a leak to smithereens.
    Let's just think about it for a second. The current plan is to drill a relief well or two to bleed off the pressure. So I'm thinking that blowing up the hole won't make the situation worse*. If it doesn't work, you'll still have the option of drilling the relief wells. On the other hand, if we can get the hole to collapse on itself, the leak could be stopped or at least drastically slowed down.

    * Of course I don't know all the details. Maybe the oil is leaking out of a valve system, and so if you blew that up, and failed to collapse the hole, the oil might leak out of the open hole at a faster rate....


    Quote Originally Posted by Glom
    Yes. You may have noticed my location periodically switched to reflect when I was offshore back when I was doing a rotation.
    Actually I did notice that. What do you do out there, if you don't mind my asking? I'm currently working as a mudlogger on some Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania. After the blowup in the Gulf, they ran off my boss for smoking in the unit, so I'm feeling the consequences even out here.....

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